The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians released a study recently showing that 55% of older Americans in states that license naturopathic physicians would consider seeing a naturopathic physician for their health care needs. Seniors are prevented from obtaining naturopathic care, however, because Medicare currently does not cover services delivered by naturopathic physicians. Only 23% of older Americans interested in seeing a naturopathic physician say they would consider doing so if they had to pay the cost of the visit out of pocket.
In what may come as a surprise to many doctors, the study found that 75% of Medicare beneficiaries prefer that their doctor use natural therapies first, such as improved diet or supplements, before prescribing drugs or surgery. The findings are not surprising since more than four in ten seniors say they are concerned about the side effects of prescription drugs.
The study was conducted by Infosurv, a leading survey research company. Infosurv surveyed 384 individuals 65 years of age and older who live in states that license naturopathic physicians. The survey provides a margin of error of +/- 5% percentage points.
“The study is a wake-up call to policy makers,” commented Jud Richland, CEO of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP). “Seniors are saying loud and clear that they want Medicare to provide access to holistic care providers such as licensed naturopathic physicians. Millions of Americans have paid Medicare taxes all their working lives, but when the time comes to participate in Medicare, they find that the services they want aren’t available.”
The complete report from Infosurv can be viewed at www.naturopathic.org/medicare.